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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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The facts and more

Reference books tell fascinating stoires

Every church library should put two new books recently issued by Fortress Press on their shelves. Both can be called "reference books," but they offer more. They tell fascinating stories as well as provide a wealth of factual information.

Introducing the New Testament (revised edition 2001) by John Drane is a classic resource that does exactly what its title suggests: It provides a way (actually, many ways) into the biblical text, setting events in context and offering help with their interpretation. 

The author, who teaches practical theology at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., writes in lively narrative style. This edition includes several changes, most notably incorporation of recent scholarly work on topics such as the historical Jesus and Paul's role as a cultural lightning rod. Drane added an entirely new, and fascinating, chapter on interpretation that helps us look at the text from the vantage point of our own times and experience.

The Story of Christian Spirituality: Two Thousand Years, From East to West makes a good companion book. While Drane's work deals with the story told by the text, this multiauthored work talks about people's responses to that story over two millennia. Most of the authors are British. But Bradley Holt, who teaches religion at Augsburg College, Minneapolis, writes one of the best chapters--"Spiritualities of the Twentieth Century." It's the recent enthusiasm for spirituality that makes this work so useful overall, and Holt's chapter helps orient us to the many forces currently in play, including psychology, charismatic healing, ecological awareness and the arts.


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